A Southern Story for Halloween

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Since it’s Halloween, my darlings, I think we need a bit of spookiness. For the past several years, I have managed to mix my love of history, fascination with weird phenomena, and story-telling compulsion into a fabulous gig as a volunteer tour guide for the Pensacola Historical Society’s Ghost Tours. I mean, I get to dress in historical costume, tell ghost stories, and be an absolute ham! What could be better?

So this week I plan to share a few of my favorite stories from Haunted Pensacola. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I love telling them!

First, let’s talk about Stella Bedgood. If there was ever a gal whose name was her destiny, it was dear Stella. She was not what the good matrons of Early 20th Century Pensacola considered proper — she’d been married and divorced twice, and she was quite well known in the bars and dancehalls along Zaragossa Street that catered to sailors and timbermen. Not only that, but she had the reputation — apparently deserved — for supplementing her income by stepping out with married men instead of staying home and raising her two children.

She had been seeing Tony Gomez, a member of the City Commission and a married father of seven, but she’d ended it during the Summer of 1936. Some say she found a more appealing gentleman, some say she got religion. Whatever the case, Tony was not willing to accept Stella giving him his conge.

In the wee small hours of September 26, 1936, Tony crept in the second story window of the boarding house at 240 East Intendencia, where Stella lived with her children. As the children watched in horror, Tony slashed her throat. The children’s screams brought the other residents of the boarding house running, and it was the very definition of “caught red-handed.” Tony had one hand in Stella’s hair and the other held the handle of the knife in her throat!

So of course, Tony went to prison for life, or possibly received the death penalty, right? Oh, my dears! Did I not say he was a Pensacola politician? Prison wasn’t in the picture.

Tony claimed a combination of temporary insanity and being too ill to stand trial, and in fact he was never convicted of Stella’s murder. Perhaps that is why occupants of 240 East Intendencia say sometimes at night they hear the screams of a woman and small children.

The building is currently occupied by a realty company. But a few years ago, it was between tenants and stood empty during the annual Haunted History tours. In fact, the power had been disconnected. But as I stood in the street telling my tour group the story of Stella and Tony, a light went on in the upper bedroom on the west side of the building — Stella’s room.

Here’s a shot of 240 East Intendencia. The window on the upper left was Stella’s.

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Here’s a link to a 1938 article about Tony’s death:
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1755&dat=19381220&id=Y-EcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fWQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4826,6596968

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